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E-cigarettes - the new advertising rules take effect

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United Kingdom

The first e-cigarette advert to show "vaping" (exhaling vapour) aired last night amidst a flurry of interest to mark the inaugural day of the new targeted advertising rules that came into effect on 10 The first e-cigarette advert to show "vaping" (exhaling vapour) aired last night amidst a flurry of interest to mark the inaugural day of the new targeted advertising rules that came into effect on 10 November 2014. Up until recently, while e-cigarette adverts have already been appearing on television, the actual depiction of the device was prohibited. The changes mean that the e-cigarette device and the action of vaping may now be shown in adverts across UK media as long as the advert complies with the following rules:

  • adverts must not be directed at young people under the age of 18, particularly by not appealing to or being associated with youth culture (this includes the avoidance of using actors that seem to be under the age of 25);

  • adverts must not portray the use of a tobacco product in a positive way, including claiming or conveying that e-cigarettes are healthier or safer than smoking tobacco products; and

  • the advert must be clear that the product is an e-cigarette.


The reason e-cigarettes are increasingly controversial is due to their ability to be associated with both potential public health benefits and detriments. The relevant rules in the advertising codes of practice, the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing and UK Code of Broadcast Advertising are meant to act as an interim measure until the implementation of the new European Tobacco Products Directive is formalized into UK legislation.  The Directive will govern the manufacture, sale and advertising of tobacco and their related products (including e-cigarettes). The UK Government have until 20 May 2016 to transpose the EU Directive into law with an additional transition period for "non-compliant" e-cigarette products until 20 November 2016.

To see one of the Advertising Standards Authority's treatment of a recent non-compliant e-cigarette advert, please click here.

To see the first UK e-cigarette advert to show the device and vaping, please click here.

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